Re-thinking education for a more sustainable world

Thank you for visiting my website. I’ve worked in environmental and sustainability education for over 40 years – and am fortunate to have built a reputation as one of the prime thought leaders in the field.

We live in extra-ordinary times – of both threat and promise globally. So here’s the BIG question that I have asked myself and others over many years:

“How should – and how can – education and learning be re-thought and re-configured to make a significant and central contribution to achieving a more sustainable and just world?”

Deep questions are now being asked, more widely than ever before, about education and about how far it’s contributing – or not – towards making a liveable and sustainable future. Yet there is a long way to go to effect the kind of transformative and systemic changes that are urgently necessary both in education and the wider world.

I hope you will find something on my site that will help you address this vital challenge within your own work or context.

“The volume of education has increased and continues to increase, yet so do pollution, exhaustion of resources, and the dangers of ecological catastrophe. If still more education is to save us, it would have to be education of a different kind: an education that takes us into the depth of things.”
E F Schumacher, (written 1974, published 1997)
“There can have been very little thinking, writing or policy- development in the sustainability education field, world -wide over the last 30 years that has not been informed to some extent by Stephen’s work. The impact on practitioners has been immense.”
Prof Steve Gough, University of Bath
“Stephen’s contribution is varied and huge. He has been one of the foremost (if not the foremost) thought leaders in the field. His writings are the ‘go-to’ texts.”
Iain Patton, former CEO of the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC)
“The world of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has been forever changed by the outstanding work of Professor Stephen Sterling. In my former role as HEA Academic Lead for ESD, I worked with numerous excellent leaders in this field from across the sector nationally and internationally. The one common element of work led by all colleagues was the reliance on Stephen’s work to form a universally accepted foundation to justify our work.”
Prof Simon Kemp, former HEA Academic Lead in ESD
“Stephen has certainly for a long time been one of the most important experts UNESCO has worked with in ESD.”
Alexander Leicht, former Chief of Education for Sustainable Development Section, UNESCO
“The circular economy is an expression of systems thinking and in all our insight publishing and educational work we owe a great debt of gratitude to Stephen’s clarity and perseverance in this arena.”
Ken Webster, Head of Innovation, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
“He has made an outstanding and incalculable contribution to the academic development of Education for Sustainability and indeed his scholarship, research and teaching have been ground-breaking in so many different ways. As a result of his leadership, countless graduates and alumni are now in influential positions across many different countries, acting as champions for EFS in schools, universities, ministries of education, NGOs and many other organisations.”
Ros Wade, Professor Emeritus of Sustainability Education, London South Bank University
“Stephen is an inspiration to the work we do at the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development. His research, writing, and leadership in the education for sustainable development field have greatly influenced our work and my own thinking. For those of us who work on ESD, Stephen is a leading light and belongs to a select group of pioneers in the important work of educating for sustainability and fostering future generations of sustainability thinkers and leaders.”
Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, Earth Charter International
“Stephen’s work has provided a foundational framework for the field of Sustainability Education internationally. His work is not only immensely inspiring, it provides practical tools for changing the way we teach and learn in order to create a more sustainable, regenerative world. It has been influential to hundreds of graduate students in the Leadership for Sustainability Education program here.”
Heather Burns, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education, Portland State University

new publication!

Learning and Sustainability in Dangerous Times

My new book will be published on the 25th April 2024. This is Learning and Sustainability in Dangerous Times, published by Agenda Publishing. This anthology collection offers a new overview and includes chapter-by-chapter introductions that link together my thinking. The book offers a compelling and stimulating perspective on the critical issue of how learning and education can make a decisive difference to securing the future in an increasingly uncertain and threatened world. Foreword by David W. Orr.

Education is at a watershed: either we drift along, tweaking the curriculum here and there as we head towards an ecological abyss, or we work with active agents of change to transform the entire educational system. Stephen Sterling has been at the heart of this debate for 50 years, and has become the go-to philosopher and thought leader for everyone who cares about the future of education and of life on Earth.’ – Jonathon Porritt

‘…as timely as any book can ever be’ – Prof David W. Orr

‘...this engaging and inspiring book is not ‘just’ for those involved in ‘sustainability education’ but needs to be read and acted upon by anyone involved in formal education at all levels, and perhaps most pressingly by those involved in policy and curricular development. I cannot recommend it highly enough.’ – Prof Peter Higgins

Essential reading for all those that are committed to rethinking, reimagining and remaking education.’– Prof Bob Jickling

‘Educators who want to prepare their students for the world that is coming would be well advised to read this powerful and inspiring book.’ – Molly Scott Cato

‘CLASSIC’ publication

Sustainable Education Re-visioning Learning and Change

This publication shows how a systemic change of educational culture towards the realisation of human potential and the interdependence of social, economic and ecological wellbeing can lead to transformative learning.

It may be over a couple of decades old but I guess it’s ‘my manifesto’ and I believe it’s as relevant and challenging as ever – partly because of the slowness of educational systems to respond adequately since its publication.

Sustainable Education Re-visioning Learning and Change